Japanese manufacturers still present, BMW in trouble and Ducati as a newcomer: the 43rd edition of the 24 heures Motos will be without an audience but not without a show this weekend (today from 12 noon) on the Bugatti circuit in Le Mans.
The field is also tightened: 38 motorcycles will be at the start, against a small sixty usually. Thirty-nine cars were expected, but Mana’s N.57 in Competition had to forfeit after three accidents during practice.
On paper, Japanese machines are favorites. The victory has never escaped them: fourteen titles for Kawasaki, twelve for Honda and Suzuki and four for Yamaha.
Victorious last year, the Kawasaki N.1 has renewed its crew, made up of the French Jérémy Guarnoni and Erwan Nigon and the veteran Spanish David Checa. But she did not seem comfortable in qualifying, snatching only 7th place on the grid.
Another Japanese bike, the Yamaha N.7, will start from pole position tomorrow, having dominated free practice and then qualifying thanks to its trio Karel Hanika-Marvin Fritz-Niccolo Canepa.
Another Yamaha, the N.77 of the Polish team Wojcik, will want to repeat the feat that saw it, almost a year ago, take second place in the Bol d'or, the other great race of 24 hours of motorcycle endurance, canceled this year.
Di Meglio placed
The Honda N.5, led by former 125cc world champion Mike Di Meglio, will start from fourth place.
And it will be necessary, as every year, to be wary of the Suzuki N.2 of SERT. Ten times winner of the Le Mans event and fifteen times world endurance champion, the French team would pay a tribute to its recently retired founder, Dominique Méliand, who will start the race. Long discreet during practice, SERT shone in the second qualifying session on Friday to snatch third place on the grid.